U.S. riots and race issues in Canada addressed by Trudeau

An image of the Black Lives Matter Protest May 2020 in Washington D.C., USA

During his daily national address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked for his comments regarding the riots ensuing in the U.S. and President Donald Trump’s threat of military action against protestors after the death of George Floyd.

When addressing the question, Trudeau paused for 21 seconds before commenting on the matter. Trudeau did not mention Trump’s name when criticizing how the situation has been handled.

“We all watch in horror and consternation at what is going on in the United States,” Trudeau said.

“It is a time to pull together… It is a time to listen. It is a time to learn when injustices continue despite progress over years and decades”.

On June 1, Trump warned governors that if the National Guard is not deployed to where riots are taking place, then military personnel would be sent to “dominate the streets” and “quickly solve the problem for them”.

Because his name was not mentioned when addressing the U.S. situation, another question was asked to Trudeau, that question asking why Trump was not directly addressed by the Prime Minister.

When addressing this, Trudeau said that Canada and its citizens are his priority.

“Canadians need a government that will be there for them, that will support them and that will move us forward in the right direction, and I will do that”.

More Trump-related questions regarding his behaviour towards minorities and hate groups were asked to Trudeau, where he responded with a pivot to the Canadian context.

“That is not how we do things in Canada… I think you all know that I’m not going to opine on what the president may or may not have said. I will simply repeat that Canada is a country of openness, of respect”.

Issues addressed during the House of Commons

The ongoing racial injustice issues were addressed again during today’s House of Commons meeting, as political party members took this time to pay tribute to George Floyd. 

Trudeau expressed solidarity with those calling for the end of systemic racism in Canada, and also addressed his blackface history.

He went on to acknowledge his past, saying “I’m not perfect” and that committing these acts is not an excuse for doing the right thing.

“I know that for so many people listening right now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech on racism from a white politician… I’m not here today to describe a reality I do not know, or speak a pain I have not felt. I’m here because I want you to know our government is listening,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau went on to point out the actions his government has done to combat the racial injustices occurring in the country, like the $45 million plan known as the “Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy” and the creation of the anti-racism secretariat role. 

Trudeau has vowed to do more for Canadian racial issues following the death of Floyd.

More Canadian party leaders shared their thoughts on Floyd’s death and how that reflects the situation in Canada, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

When addressing the injustices happening to black and Indigenous people in Canada, Singh said that they are “tired of pretty words and speeches from people in power” and has urged Trudeau to help reform the criminal justice system so that it is fairer for minorities.

“How many more people need to die before there’s action?”

Singh went on to say that Canada needs to confront its racist history, especially after the deaths of Regis Korchinski Paquet, a black trans woman who died after an interaction with Toronto police, and Stewart Kevin Andrews, an Indigenous man killed by Winnipeg police back in April.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer addressed Floyd’s death, and also acknowledged the contributions made by black Canadians. He went on to say that anti-black racism and behaviour should not be tolerated in the country.

“Racism is real, it is painful and it is wrong… No one should ever feel unsafe because of the colour of their skin, especially around police officers”.

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